Naked Brunch: reflections on depression

There are some days when putting on pants takes too much energy.

That’s the shortest way I’ve found to attempt to describe depression to anyone who has never been more than blue.

I had brunch with a friend this morning, because I was unable to dress myself in time for breakfast. Said friend has rarely touched dark blue. If she were a mood ring, she would maintain a steady turquoise even in her worst moments.

As such, we have a pact to talk about anything except my occasional inability to put on pants. Similarly, we’ve agreed to never discuss her ongoing affair with a man whose wife I will always side with on principle. Best to stick to common threads, we’ve said.

Today was an exception.

Over coffee, she cried about her lover who recently left her. An eight year affair breeds attachment, apparently, even if it’s to an ever-unraveling tether. Together, we shared our grief over common quandaries: her false hope of what she’d fantasized her life could be and my wavering wish that someday I’ll wake up and want to live. Morbid as it may sound, it was a nice chat.

As emotionally raw as I may appear to be in my writing – especially in my fiction – I rarely allow myself to be so vulnerable in my day-to-day encounters. Even with trusted friends, I am always at least somewhat guarded. I attribute this to having been abused as a child and therefore having developed the instinct to protect myself from potential danger, even when none is present. I can analyze the crap out of anything but rarely allow myself to feel too much at once.

The past few weeks have been emotional ones, for a variety of reasons. My defenses aren’t at their best, which has been made evident by my body. I have a fever, my head is throbbing, and muscles I didn’t know I had are aching. The last thing I wanted to do this morning was leave my warm nest. But I’m glad I did.

My friend, a fellow fan of the beats, brought up Burrough’s explanation for the meaning behind the title of Naked Lunch: “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

That was brunch. How it’ll digest, I am not yet certain.

Originally published December 5, 2005

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